111 Best 80s Songs

Best 80s Songs

The 1980s was an iconic decade for music history, with fantastic bands and countless hit songs. For that reason, this list of the best 80s songs is long, but stick around to remember some of that decade’s most extraordinary music!

Contents

“Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey

Song Year: 1981

Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” from their 1981 album Escape, has to be at the top of any list of the best songs of the 1980s. Many consider it Journey’s most popular and signature track, and it is still a popular tune more than 40 years after its release. In total, people have downloaded this song over 7 million times.

“I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston

Song Year: 1987

From her second studio album Whitney released in 1987, Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” is a must on any collection of best 80s songs. The song succeeded worldwide by topping many charts. Houston and this track also won a Grammy in 1988 for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

“Purple Rain” by Prince

Song Year: 1984

Prince’s “Purple Rain,” released in 1984 on an album by the same name, was a hugely successful song. This ballad has elements of gospel and orchestral sounds mixed into rock and roll. The track made it to the number 2 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

“Livin' on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi

Song Year: 1986

Released on the 1986 album Slippery When Wet, Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” is an easily recognizable 80s track. As his signature song, it dominated the charts and has received millions of digital downloads and nearly 1 billion views on Youtube.

“You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC

Song Year: 1980

AC/DC released the track “You Shook Me All Night Long” on their 1980 album Back in Black and the 1986 album Who Made Who. VH1 put this song at the number 10 spot on their list of the 100 Greatest Songs of the 80s.

“Beat It” by Michael Jackson

Song Year: 1982

Up next is another track that likely needs no introduction, Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.” From his 1982 album Thriller, the song maintained the number 1 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 for three weeks. The music video, in particular, helped propel Jackson into his career.

“Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard

Song Year: 1987

From the 1987 album Hysteria, Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me” is an energetic song that mixes hard rock with elements of rap, similar to Aerosmith. Widely considered the band’s best work, the track hit the number 2 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100.

“Love Shack” by B-52s

Song Year: 1989

The B-52s released the track “Love Shack” on their 1989 album Cosmic Thing. Despite a slump in popularity through the 80s, this track is a comeback for the band. Eventually included in the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” collection, it is one of the best songs of the 80s.

“Straight Outta Compton” by NWA

Song Year: 1988

The 1980s was a crucial decade for hip-hop's history, and NWA’s 1988 track “Straight Outta Compton” was a pivotal song for rap. The track and the album were controversial, but it eventually became the first rap song to be certified platinum.

“Hungry Like the Wolf” by Duran Duran

Song Year: 1982

The British band Duran Duran released the song “Hungry Like the Wolf” in 1982 on their album Rio. The track performed well on charts in the UK. In 1984, it won a Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video.

“Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson

Song Year: 1982

Next is another track from Michael Jackson’s 1982 album Thriller, this time, the song “Billie Jean.” The track held top spots on various charts, including the Billboard Hot 100 and the Billboard Hot Black Singles. The Recording Industry Association of America certified “Billie Jean” 6x platinum.

“Fight the Power” by Public Enemy

Song Year: 1988

Another huge hip-hop group from the 1980s was Public Enemy, and their 1988 track “Fight the Power” was a gigantic hit culturally and musically. Appearing on the album Fear of a Black Planet, the lyrics and video shots are about African-American culture and civil rights themes.

“When Doves Cry” by Prince

Song Year: 1984

Besides mastering many instruments, Prince’s music also had a unique blend of musical styles. And on the song “When Doves Cry”, another track from the 1984 album Purple Rain, Prince played every instrument. It stayed at the number 1 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 for five weeks.

“Celebration” by Kool & The Gang

Song Year: 1980

The title of this Kool & The Gang song, “Celebration,” probably has the melody and lyrics ringing in your ear. Released in 1980, this track reached the number 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. The Library of Congress also put this song in the National Recording Registry because of its cultural significance.

“Express Yourself” by Madonna

Song Year: 1989

From her 1989 album Like a Prayer, Madonna’s song “Express Yourself” mixes styles of pop, dance, and funk music. The lyrics are about female empowerment, and the track peaked at number 2 on Billboard’s Hot 100.

“I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)” by Hall & Oates

Song Year: 1981

Hall & Oates released their 10th studio album, Private Eyes, in 1981, and the song “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do) was the second single from that album. The track notably features Charles DeChant playing saxophone, and the song made it to the top of Billboard’s Hot 100.

“Footloose” by Kenny Loggins

Song Year: 1984

If you do not recognize the singer-songwriter of this track, you might know the movie by the same name. Released in 1984 as a single from the film’s soundtrack, the song “Footloose” is a classic that spent many weeks at the top of the charts.

“Modern Love” by David Bowie

Song Year: 1983

Released as the first track on the 1983 album Let’s Dance, the song “Modern Love” by David Bowie blends elements of rock and new wave music. The song succeeded on the charts, reaching the number 2 spot on the UK Singles Chart and 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US.

“Sweet Child O' Mine” by Guns N' Roses

Song Year: 1988

The track “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses has an opening guitar riff that almost anybody will recognize. Released in 1988 on their first album Appetite for Destruction, this track was a number one single in the US.

“Thriller” by Michael Jackson

Song Year: 1982

You might be familiar with the striking images of zombies dancing in the music video for “Thriller,” directed by John Landis. The track, which blends elements of funk and disco, has been certified platinum seven times by the Recording Industry Association of America.

“The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five

Song Year: 1982

Released on an album by the same name, the track “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five is another 80s track that captures the essence of that decade’s hip-hop scene. The lyrics center around a labor strike in the early 1980s in New York City’s transit system.

“Like a Virgin” by Madonna

Song Year: 1984

Madonna’s “Like a Virgin,” released on her 1984 studio album with the same name, is a romantic track with a music video shot in Venice. There is a steady bass line with synthesizer instrumentals, including her impressively high singing.

“Girls Just Want To Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper

Song Year: 1983

Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” likely needs no introduction. Released in 1983 on the album She So Unusual, this recording became a beacon of the feminist movement.

“This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” by Talking Heads

Song Year: 1983

The Talking Heads released the track “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” on their 1983 album Speaking in Tongues. The tune has the new wave sound you would expect of this band, including elements of funk. The lyrics create a love song about enjoying being at home with the person you love.

“Walk This Way” by Run DMC

Song Year: 1986

“Walk This Way” is originally a track recorded by Aerosmith in 1977, but this version by Run DMC comes from the 1986 album Raising Hell. The song blends hip-hop and rock music, setting an example for the sampling that became more and more common in hip-hop music.

“Summer of 69” by Bryan Adams

Song Year: 1984

The opening guitar riff and vocals of this Bryan Adams track are classic. From the 1984 album Reckless, this song will rock out any 80s playlist. The music is energetic enough for dancing, and the lyrics center around deciding whether to tour as a rock star or settle down.

“Close to Me” by The Cure

Song Year: 1985

The Cure released the track “Close to Me” in 1985 on their 6th studio album, The Head on the Door. The vocals have the unique sound you would expect from The Cure, and there are a few versions of this song with features such as a brass band. It made the charts in Australia, the UK, and the US.

“How Will I Know” by Whitney Houston

Song Year: 1985

Released on her debut album in 1985, Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know” is a high-energy track that is perfect for dancing. Shannon Rubicam and George Merrill originally wrote the song for Janet Jackson, but Houston recorded it after Jackson passed on it. The track hit the charts in many countries, including the number 1 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100.

“The Way You Make Me Feel” by Michael Jackson

Song Year: 1987

Michael Jackson released the track “The Way You Make Me Feel” in 1987 on the album Bad, and you will likely recognize it from the opening rhythms. Marking Jackson’s success in the 80s, this single was the third in a row to hit the number 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. You can also find this track on many greatest hits albums.

“Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye

Song Year: 1982

The opening vocals of this Marvin Gaye song, along with the title, make it clear what the topic is. From the 1982 album Midnight Love, this track has a relaxed tempo and mixes elements of soul and funk. Rolling Stone ranked the song 198 on their 500 Greatest Songs of All Time collection.

“With or Without You” by U2

Song Year: 1987

U2 released the song “With or Without You” on their 1987 album The Joshua Tree. As a single, the track reached the number 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in both the United States and Canada. The song holds the 131st spot on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list.

“Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield

Song Year: 1981

From Rick Springfield’s 1981 album Working Class Dog, “Jessie’s Girl” features passionate vocals with lyrics about the age-old theme of unrequited love. The track eventually reached the top of Billboard’s Hot 100, and many films feature it, such as 13 Going on 30, Boogie Nights, and Suicide Squad.

“Free Fallin’” by Tom Petty

Song Year: 1989

Released on the 1989 album Full Moon Fever, Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’” is a classic track that you will still hear on the radio frequently. As one of his most famous songs, it made it to the number 7 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and is number 219 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list.

“Walk Like an Egyptian” by The Bangles

Song Year: 1986

The Bangles released the song “Walk Like an Egyptian” on their 1986 album Different Light, and by 1987 it had earned Billboard’s number 1 spot. This high-energy track has psychedelic sounds and lyrics, and it is certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.

“(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes

Song Year: 1987

From the soundtrack to the 1987 movie Dirty Dancing, the song “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life” is a classic that almost everyone will recognize. Franke Previte, John DeNicola, and Donald Markowitz wrote the song, and it won numerous awards, including an Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Original Song.

“Dancing in the Dark” by Bruce Springsteen

Song Year: 1984

Bruce Springsteen released the track “Dancing in the Dark” on his 1984 album Born in the U.S.A. Directly from the instrumental introduction, the song has high energy that only grows with Springsteen’s screaming vocals. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame included this track in their collection of the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

“Jump” by Van Halen

Song Year: 1984

The synthesizer instrumental lick that opens this track captures a classic sound of the 80s, making this a must in any collection of the best songs of the 1980s. Released in 1984, the track topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart and is number 177 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time collection.

“Pretty Young Thing (P.Y.T)” by Michael Jackson

Song Year: 1982

Next is another song from Michael Jackson’s 1982 album Thriller. Reaching the number 10 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 and the number 46 on the Hot Black Singles chart, the track is among many of the hugely successful songs from this album. You can also hear samples of this song from many hip-hop artists such as Kanye West and the Black Eyed Peas.

“What’s Love Got To Do With It” by Tina Turner

Song Year: 1984

Tina Turner released the track “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” her most successful single, on 1984 on the album Private Dancer. It was Turner’s only song that reached the number 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The track’s success earned it a spot in the Grammy Hall of Fame.

“Need You Tonight” by INXS

Song Year: 1987

Next is a song from the Australian rock band INXS, their 1987 signature track “Need You Tonight”. The song has a relaxed tempo and groove, and it includes psychedelic instrumentals and vocal techniques. It peaked at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

“Push It” by Salt-N-Pepa

Song Year: 1987

If you are looking for a high-energy dancing song for your 1980s playlist, consider adding Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It.” This hip-hop song has strong rhythmic grooves and melodic instrumental lines that compliment the group's rapping vocals. 

“Everybody Wants To Rule the World” by Tears for Fears

Song Year: 1985

The English rock band Tears for Fears released the track “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” on their 1985 album Songs from the Big Chair. You will likely recognize the synthesizer introduction to this song, as well as the catchy chorus. As one of the band’s signature tracks, it peaked at number 1 on multiple charts worldwide.

“Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake

Song Year: 1982

Released in 1982 on the album Saints & Sinners, Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again” is a power ballad containing the classic sounds of 1980s rock music. The song reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 9 on the UK Singles Chart. You can also find a re-recorded version of this track with slight differences released in 1987.

“Faithfully” by Journey

Song Year: 1983

The opening piano riff of Journey’s track “Faithfully” is easily recognizable, along with the soaring vocals of lead singer Neal Schon. Released on their 1983 album Frontiers, the song is a power ballad that has powerful instrumentals and deep lyrics. It peaked at the number 12 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100.

“Every Breath You Take” by The Police

Song Year: 1983

“Every Breath You Take” by The Police was released on the 1983 album Synchronicity. The track was hugely successful and held the number 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 8 weeks. With a relaxed tempo and low-key instrumentals, the lyrics are the main feature of this track. They are about an upset lover who wishes to stalk their ex.

“Come on Eileen” by Dexys Midnight Runners

Song Year: 1982

The track “Come on Eileen” by Dexys Midnight Runners famously opens with a Celtic-themed fiddle solo. From their 1982 album Too-Rye-Ay, the track features upbeat instrumentals and an incredibly catchy chorus. You will surely get people to sing along to this track!

“Bust a Move” by Young M.C.

Song Year: 1989

Next is another rap track that perfectly captures the hip-hop style of the 1980s. “Bust A Move” by Young M.C., from the 1989 album Stone Cold Rhymin', samples the song “Found a Child” by Ballin’ Jack. The track also features Crystal Blake on vocals and Michael Peter Balzary—from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers—on bass.

“Take on Me” by A-ha

Song Year: 1985

Even if you do not recognize the name of this artist, you will surely recognize the opening instrumental riff. Released on the 1985 album Hunting High and Low, this synth-pop track has an energetic beat and soaring vocals that will have you singing along during the choruses.

“Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper

Song Year: 1983

Cyndi Lauper released the track “Time After Time” on her 1983 album She’s So Unusual. Rob Hyman co-wrote the song with Lauper, and it eventually became a number 1 hit. Musically, the track is a passionate love song with lyrics and instrumentals that will put you in a sentimental mood.

“Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen

Song Year: 1980

No collection of great songs from the 1980s would be complete without some tracks by Queen. “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” was released on the 1980 album The Game, and it was Queen’s first single to reach the number 1 position on Billboard’s Hot 100. Unique for Queen’s music, the track captures a rockabilly sound.

“Just Like Honey” by The Jesus and Mary Chain

Song Year: 1985

The Jesus and Mary Chain was an alternative rock band that featured lots of psychedelic sounds, and this track is no exception. Released in 1985 on the album Psychocandy, the band’s song “Just Like Honey” hit the number 45 spot on the UK Singles Chart.

“Just Like Heaven” by The Cure

Song Year: 1987

The Cure released the track “Just Like Heaven” in 1987, and the lyrics center around a trip that songwriter Robert Smith took on the sea with his wife. This track was a breakthrough for the band in America, reaching number 40 on Billboard’s 1988 chart. There are also instrumental versions of this track.

“Take Me Home Tonight” by Eddie Money

Song Year: 1986

Eddie Money’s “Take Me Home Tonight was” released on the 1986 album Can’t Hold Back, and the chorus of this track is famously catchy. As Money’s most successful song in the US, it reached the number 4 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and topped the Album Rock Tracks chart.

“The Sweetest Taboo” by Sade

Song Year: 1985

Sade released the track “The Sweetest Taboo” on the 1985 album Promise. The song uniquely blends a high-energy beat with mellow vocals that have lyrics about falling in love. The song peaked at number 5 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and number 31 on UK Singles Chart.

“Our Lips Are Sealed” by The Go-Go's

Song Year: 1981

“Our Lips Are Sealed,” released by The Go-Go’s on their 1981 album Beauty and the Beat, was the band’s debut single in America. The music has a steady groove and impressive singing/harmony in the female vocals. Rolling Stone included this track in their collection of the 100 Greatest Pop Songs of all time.

“Red Red Wine” by UB40

Song Year: 1983

Even though Neil Diamond originally wrote and recorded the song “Red Red Wine” in 1967, this version by UB40 became a huge hit in the 80s. Released in 1983, the UB40 cover reached the number 1 spot on charts in both the UK and US.

“Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley

Song Year: 1987

Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up,” released on the 1987 album Whenever You Need Somebody, is a track you will hear on just about any wedding playlist. With a high-energy beat and plenty of backing instrumentals, this song will have people dancing and singing. 

“Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N' Roses

Song Year: 1987

There is no mistaking the introduction to this rocking track by Guns N’ Roses, and lead singer Axl Rose’s distinct voice also makes the song unmistakable. Released on the band’s debut 1987 album, Appetite for Destruction, the song reached the number 24 spot on UK Singles Chart and the number 7 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.

“What I Like About You” by Romantics

Song Year: 1980

The Romantics released the song “What I Like About You” on their debut album in 1980. The track was successful on charts worldwide, but it found the most success in Australia, where it reached the number 2 spot on the Australian Singles Chart.

“All Night Long” by Lionel Richie

Song Year: 1983

From the 1983 album Can’t Slow Down, Lionel Riche’s “All Night Long” blends various musical styles, primarily soul, funk, and Caribbean styles. In addition to the Caribbean rhythms and instrumentals, there are also African phrases throughout the lyrics. The track topped many charts.

“Too Shy” by Kajagoogoo

Song Year: 1983

The English band Kajagoogoo released the track “Too Shy” on their 1983 album White Feathers. The song contains classic synth-bass sounds and vocal techniques you would expect from 80s music. In terms of chart performance, the song topped the UK Singles Chart and hit number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States.

“Like a Prayer” by Madonna

“Like a Prayer” by Madonna

Song Year: 1989

Next is Madonna’s “Like A Prayer,” the title track from Madonna’s 1989 album of the same name. This rock song has unpredictable tempo changes that will keep you engaged, and it mixes elements of rock and gospel. The lyrics center around a young woman describing her love for God.

“Africa” by Toto

Song Year: 1982

No collection of 1980s music would be complete with Toto’s song “Africa”. Released in 1982 on the album Toto IV, the song begins with relaxed energy but quickly builds to a powerful chorus. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States and performed well on charts in several other countries.

“Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham!

Song Year: 1984

The duo Wham! released the track “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” in 1984 as a single from the album Make It Big. George Michael wrote the song, and it is now a classic icon of the 80s, earning a place on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the '80s.

“Kiss” by Prince

Song Year: 1986

Next is another track by Prince, the song “Kiss,” which he released on the 1986 album Parade. The track was a huge hit worldwide, topping many charts and making it onto Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list.

“Karma Chameleon” by Culture Club

Song Year: 1983

The English band Culture Club released the track “Karma Chameleon” on their 1983 album Colour by Numbers. The song is upbeat and has positive lyrics sung with layered harmony. In the year of its release, it sold more copies in the UK than any other single.

“Burning Down the House” by Talking Heads

Song Year: 1983

Next is another classic track from the new age band Talking Heads, this time the song “Burning Down the House.” Released in 1983 on the album Speaking in Tongues, the music mixes jam, funk, and psychedelic styles.

“White Wedding” by Billy Idol

Song Year: 1982

The introduction to Billy Idol’s “White Wedding” captures the classic sounds of the 1980s. From his 1982 self-titled album, this high-energy song performed well on charts worldwide and is one of his most famous tracks.

“Super Freak” by Rick James

Song Year: 1981

If you do not recognize the title of this Rick James song, the opening guitar riff will immediately trigger your memory. Released on his 1981 album Street Songs, “Super Freak” is also widely known because MC Hammer sampled it in the track “U Can't Touch This.”

“Love Is a Battlefield” by Pat Benatar

Song Year: 1983

Released on the 1983 album Live from Earth, Pat Benatar’s “Love Is a Battlefield” had millions of purchases. VH1 ranked it number 30 on its collection of the 100 Greatest Songs of the 1980s.

“I Love Rock ‘N Roll” by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts

Song Year: 1981

The British rock band The Arrows originally wrote the track “I Love Rock ‘N Roll,” but this version by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts was a huge hit. Released in 1981, the tune topped charts worldwide. The track was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2016.

“Should I Stay or Should I Go” by The Clash

Song Year: 1982

Released on the 1982 album Combat Rock, The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go” is a punk rock song with lyrics that suggest tension between band members. The track gained more attention after Levi used it in a jeans commercial in the 1990s.

“Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie

Song Year: 1981

The bass riff that serves as the introduction to this track is classic, making it easily recognizable as the track “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie. As is common in hip-hop music, the rapper Vanilla Ice sampled this song for his track “Ice Ice Baby.”

“Mony Mony” by Billy Idol

Song Year: 1981

The band Tommy James and the Shondells originally recorded the track “Mony Mony” in 1968, but this Billy Idol cover was a much bigger hit. Released in 1981, the music captures elements of 70s rock and the new synthesizer sounds of the 80s.

“Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen

Song Year: 1980

“Another One Bites The Dust” is one of Queen’s most classic songs, and it held the number 1 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 for three weeks. From the 1980 album The Game, you can hear the track often at sporting events.

“West End Girls” by Pet Shop Boys

Song Year: 1984

The Pet Shop Boys released the track “West End Girls” as a single in 1984, and they also released it years later on their debut album Please. The music has a strong bass groove, and the lyrics capture the difficulty of living in the inner city.

“Sister Christian” by Night Ranger

Song Year: 1984

Next is a shift in musical styles, this time the power ballad “Sister Christian” by Night Ranger. Released in 1984 on the album Midnight Madness, this song has a powerful sound, peaking at the number 5 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100.

“Wild Thing” by Tone Loc

Song Year: 1988

This next track is another hip-hop song, this time Tone Loc’s “Wild Thing.” Released in 1988, the track made it to the number 21 spot on the UK Singles Chart and the number 2 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100.

“It’s the End of the World as We Know It” by R.E.M

Song Year: 1987

The title of the R.E.M song, “It’s the End of the World as We Know It,” probably has you singing the chorus as you read. Released in 1987 on the album Document, the track performed well on many charts.

“Tainted Love” by Soft Cell

Song Year: 1981

Gloria Jones originally recorded the track “Tainted Love” in 1964, but this cover by Soft Cell made the song famous worldwide. Released in 1981 on the album Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret, uses synthesizers and rhythm machines to produce this classic 80s sound.

“It’s Tricky” by Run-D.M.C.

Song Year: 1987

Released in 1987 as a single from the album Raising Hell, “It’s Tricky” by Run-D.M.C. captures the classic sound of 1980s hip-hop music. The song peaked at the number 16 spot on the UK Singles Chart and reached the number 57 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100.

“Don't You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds

Song Year: 1985

The Scottish band Simple Minds released the track “Don’t You (Forget About Me) in 1985, and the song gained notoriety for its being used in the famous film The Breakfast Club.

“Every Rose Has Its Thorn” by Poison

Song Year: 1988

Next is another power ballad, a song form that was popular in the 1980s. Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” released in 1988, is a sentimental track that performed well on charts worldwide.

“Sharp Dressed Man” by ZZ Top

Song Year: 1983

Shifting from the sentimentality of the previous Poison song, this next ZZ Top track is an energetic rock song that has a driving rhythm. Released in 1983 on the album Eliminator, this recording is best known for its famous guitar solo. 

“Where Is My Mind?” by The Pixies

Song Year: 1988

The Pixies released the track “Where Is My Mind?” on their 1988 album Surfer Rosa. Black Francis wrote the song after being inspired by a scuba diving experience, and Rolling Stone recently included it in their collection of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

“In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins

Song Year: 1981

Phil Collins’ song “In the Air Tonight” has a dreamlike sound that is impossible to forget. Released in 1981 as a single from the album Face Value, the track is famous for its drum solo minutes into the song.

“(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)” by Beastie Boys

Song Year: 1987

The Beastie Boys’ track “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)” is one of the band’s most famous songs. Released in 1987 on the album Licensed to III, this tune peaked at number 7 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and is now included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

“We Got the Beat” by The Go-Go’s

Song Year: 1981

The Go-Go’s released the song “We Got the Beat” in 1981, and it is another from the album Beauty and the Beat. The track has a new wave sound and has a driving energy/rhythm that is perfect for dancing.

“Janie's Got a Gun” by Aerosmith

Song Year: 1989

Released in 1989 on the album Pump, Aerosmith’s “Janie’s Got a Gun” contains a slap bass sound that was typical in 80s music. The track topped charts worldwide, and it won a Grammy in 1990 for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

“Hit Me With Your Best Shot” by Pat Benatar

Song Year: 1980

Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” released in 1980 on the album Crimes of Passion, peaked at the number 9 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100. This high-energy rock track is also certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.

“Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler

Song Year: 1983

Bonnie Tyler released the song “Total Eclipse of the Heart” in 1983 on her album Faster Than the Speed of Night. It was a best-selling track in the UK and topped the charts in the United States as well. The song is also certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.

“Pride (In the Name of Love)” by U2

Song Year: 1984

From the 1984 album The Unforgettable Fire, U2’s “Pride (In the Name of Love)” is a powerful track written about Martin Luther King Jr. The song is in Rolling Stone’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time” and in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's collection of 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

“Fishin’ in the Dark” by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

Song Year: 1987

Next is a country/blues track by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Released in 1987 on the album Hold On, “Fishin’ in the Dark” topped charts in the US and Canada. The lyrics are about fishing at night during a full moon.

“Call Me” by Blondie

Song Year: 1980

The new wave band Blondie released the track “Call Me” on their 1980 album American Gigolo. You will recognize the famous chorus of this tune if nothing else. The song held the number 1 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 for six weeks.

“I Melt With You” by Modern English

Song Year: 1982

Released in 1982 on the album After the Snow, Modern English’s “I Melt With You” is a love song that includes darker elements of economic difficulties and fears about nuclear war. The track reached the number 76 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

“You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)” by Dead Or Alive

Song Year: 1984

There is no mistaking the classic 80s sound of Dead Or Alive’s song “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record). Released in 1984 as a single from the album Youthquake, the song was a number 1 hit in the UK and hit number 11 in the US.

“The Breaks” by Kurtis Blow

Song Year: 1980

Next is another rap song, this time Kurtis Blow’s “The Breaks.” Released in 1980 on his self-titled album, the track captures the old-school hip-hop sound of the early 80s. VH1 gave it the number 10 spot on their “Greatest Hip-Hop Songs” collection.

“London Calling” by The Clash

Song Year: 1979

Yet another song by The Clash, “London Calling” was released as a single for the 1979 album of the same name. The song, which broke the top 20 on charts in the UK, is a departure from the older punk rock sound of this band.

“Any Way You Want It” by Journey

Song Year: 1980

Next is another great track by the American rock band Journey, their 1980 single “Any Way You Want It.” The song is also on their 1980 album Departure and remains a staple in the classic rock world.

“Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel

Song Year: 1986

If you are looking for an 80s blend of funk, rock, and soul music, check out Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer.” Released on the 1986 album So, this song held the number 1 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart for four weeks.

“Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina & The Waves

Song Year: 1983

Reading the title of “Walking On Sunshine” by Katrina & The Waves likely made you sing this catchy chorus. Released in 1983 on an album of the same name, this track hit the top 10 on charts in the UK, United States, and Australia. This high-energy song is perfect for dancing!

“We're Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister

Song Year: 1984

Twisted Sister released the song “We’re Not Gonna Take It” on their 1984 Stay Hungry. The track hit the number 21 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and VH1 ranked it number 21 on its collection “100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 80s.”

“You Make My Dreams Come True” by Daryl Hall & John Oates

Song Year: 1981

The opening piano riff of Daryl Hall & John Oates’ “You Make My Dreams Come True” is unmistakable. Released in 1981 on the album Voices, this catchy rock song hit the number 5 spot on Billboard's Hot 100 chart.

“Born in the U.S.A.” by Bruce Springsteen

Song Year: 1984

It does not get more classic than Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” Another track from his 1984 album by the same name, this song is one of Springsteen’s most famous and is included in Rolling Stone’s collection of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”. The lyrics center around difficulties that Vietnam Veterans faced.

“Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” by Eurythmics

Song Year: 1983

There is no mistaking the opening of the famous Eurythmics song “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This). Released in 1983 on an album with the same name, this track opens with the unique sound of Annie Lennox as well as new wave synthesizer sounds. It hit the number 1 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 and number 2 on the UK Singles Chart.

“Jack & Diane” by John Cougar Mellencamp

Song Year: 1982

From the 1982 album American Fool, John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Jack & Diane” is a love ballad featuring lots of acoustic guitar playing and sentimental lyrics. The song famously contains clapping sounds the entire time, and it topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for four weeks.

“Take My Breath Away” by Berlin

Song Year: 1986

Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” was released in 1986, and it is famously known for its usage in the soundtrack to Top Gun. With a dreamy new age sound, this track is a slow and romantic love song. The track won an academy award and a golden globe for Best Original Song.

“Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor

Song Year: 1982

Released as a single for the 1982 album with the same name, Survivor’s “Eye Of The Tiger” is an intense and motivating song that held the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart for six weeks. But this track is probably the most famous as the theme song for the 1982 movie Rocky III.

“It’s Raining Men” by Weather Girls

Song Year: 1983

The Weather Girls released “It’s Raining Men” as the lead single on their 1983 album Sucess. Paul Jabara and Paul Shaffer wrote the song, and it blends many musical styles such as dance, disco, R&B, and soul. The track was a hit worldwide, and VH1 included it in their collection of the “Greatest Songs of the 1980s.”

“Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” by The Police

Song Year: 1981

The Police released the track “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” on their 1981 album Ghost in the Machine. The song hit number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and it has a chorus that will have everyone singing!

“Keep on Loving You” by REO Speedwagon

Song Year: 1980

There is no better way to round off this collection of best 80s songs than with the REO Speedwagon power ballad “Keep on Loving You.” Released on their 1980 album Hi Infidelity, the track sold over a million copies and is a must-have in any collection of greatest hits from the 1980s.

Top 80s Songs Ever, Final Thoughts

Just like the fashion of the 1980s, that decade’s music had a unique sound. And as you can tell from this collection, there is no shortage of amazing music from this decade. The huge hits range across genres and emotions—there are some especially amazing dance songs.

So if you need a 1980s-themed playlist, hopefully, you have found plenty to choose from here.

P.S. Remember though, none of what you've learned will matter if you don't know how to get your music out there and earn from it. Want to learn how to do that? Then get our free ‘5 Steps To Profitable Youtube Music Career' ebook emailed directly to you!

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